Tesla co-founder JB Straubel’s new startup is starting to emerge from stealth mode and it is already recycling scrap from Gigafactory Nevada – albeit not with Tesla.
Straubel was an early founding member of Tesla and the company Chief Technology Officer until last summer.
He officially moved to an advisory role at the company, but it is believed to have been a symbolic move to soften the blow of Tesla’s longtime technology leader leaving the company.
As we reported at the time, Straubel was already becoming less present at Tesla months prior to the announcement and spending more time on his startup: Redwood Materials.
Redwood is developing processes to recycle battery materials to be reused in new batteries.
Straubel set up the company in Nevada not too far from Tesla Gigafactory Nevada. That, combined with the fact that he started the company while still working at Tesla and hired several employees from the automaker, led people to believe that the company was linked to Tesla, but it is apparently not the case.
Redwood is starting to come out of stealth mode with a new profile in the Wall Street Journal and Straubel again reiterated that Tesla nor Elon Musk are involved in the company.
However, Straubel did confirm that Redwood is working with Panasonic to recycle battery materials coming out of Gigafactory Nevada:
“Mr. Straubel’s vision is already winning converts, including Panasonic, his old partner for the Gigafactory. The company late last year began a trial with Redwood to reclaim more than 400 pounds of the scrap it generates in making battery cells and now has upped that to 2 tons. All of the scrap coming from its side of the Nevada battery facility is now shipped to Redwood.”
The profile mainly revolved around Straubel’s history with Tesla and didn’t go into too many details about the processes that they are developing to recycle the battery materials.
They are currently focusing on refining their recycling process on cellphone batteries in order to be more efficient when it is time to move to electric car batteries once the volume of electric cars reaching their end-of-life becomes higher.
With more than half of the cost of batteries coming from raw materials, Straubel sees battery cost reduction slowing down if the raw materials are not seriously addressed.
“Forever the entire market has been dictated by the commodity price of these metals. This is a chance to change that whole equation and to realize material cost savings in a way that short circuits that industry.”
He believes that they can reach half the price of mined materials within 10 years.
The company started the summer with 50 employees and they are looking to expand to 200 employees by the end of the year.
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